Written by Robert Pratka
Shore Sports Network Correspondent

MARLBORO TWP. - Marlboro and Freehold Township faced off Tuesday in a battle of A North powerhouses. It was a game that featured two great teams, and five club national champions, but neither team could edge the other in a 2-2 draw.

The game started off slow until Adrian Barajas pulled the game’s first shot wide right in the fifth minute of the game.

Neither of the two talented teams took any shots during another sloppy stretch, making the goalies bystanders. Fortunately, that changed as once the clock hit the 19th minute mark and shots started pouring in. Barajas broke the scoreless deadlock when he latched on to a through ball, beat a few defenders, and than coolly slotted the ball past the Mustang goalie Elijah Krain.

Photo by Robert Pratka.

The lead however, would only last for several minutes as Steve Karp tucked home a direct kick after a handball outside the box.

In the ensuing minute Freehold Township, thought they had once again taken the lead, but the referees called a potential goal back because of a foul.

The remaining 15 minutes of the half were all Marlboro as shot after shot poured on Freehold Township goalie Josh Nastarowicz. The shots couldn’t find their way in as the half ended in a tie.

The second half started with much more intensity as Marlboro striker P.J. Ringel rifled a shot into Josh Nastarowicz’s path, forcing a great save. The Patriots had the next chance as Kyle Trainor received a cross from Barajas and dropped it off for oncoming forward Kevin Finn. Finn pulled the ball wide left of the Mustangs goal as frustration started to settle on the faces of the Patriots.

The next big opportunity came 30 minutes after Finn’s chance. Freehold Township’s Sean O’Donnell found himself in a lot of space and attempted to loop the ball over the keeper, but Krain blocked the shot and gathered the ball. With three minutes left in the game Barajas scored his second goal, curling a nice right-footed shot into the bottom left corner of the net.

Excitement set in for the Patriots, but the game was not over. Marlboro found the equalizer almost immediately after Barajas’s goal. P.J. Ringel scored on a scramble in the box and regulation ended as a tie.

Overtime was back and forth with chances for both teams, but none of the players could put one last goal in the net. The result means that Marlboro has clinched at least a share of the Class A North public title, and they hope to finish the job in their next game Thursday against Colts Neck.